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Lorenzo Ghielmi and La Divina Armonica present a very Italianate view of the Handel organ concertos: fresh and driven (with both keyed and plucked continuo), but also somewhat aggressively articu- lated, as in the outer movements of op.8 no.5. In the reverberant acoustics the exaggerated staccatos and subito pianos are exciting, if a bit inelegant. The beautiful single-manual Giovanni Pradella organ (2007) sounds very pretty, though its ‘papery’ voicing takes it into a very different tonal sphere to that inhabited by the English organs known to Handel. Does this matter? Ghielmi uses the organ creatively (the Nasard and Cornet feature often) and it sounds well, so perhaps not; although I think recordings suggest that organs such as those at Great Packington or Armitage may blend better with instruments. These are exceptionally stylish performances and if your view of Handel’s concertos is an international one, rather than as simply interval music for Covent Garden, you should enjoy this.

CHRIS BRAGG Read the full review on Agora Classica

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